Fortinet Snaps Up IoT-Focused Security Firm Bradford Networks


Fortinet plans to extend segmentation and security to the edge of the enterprise network through its purchase of access control vendor Bradford Networks.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based security giant said Boston-based Bradford Networks provides an agentless assessment of all devices accessing the enterprise network – including those that are IoT-enabled – and automatically contains the non-compliant ones in real-time. Bradford's offering is used by large firms across healthcare, education, financial services, manufacturing, government, retail and technology.

"The integration of Bradford Networks’ technology with Fortinet’s security fabric enables large enterprises with the continuous visibility, micro-segmentation and access control technology they need to contain threats and block untrusted devices from accessing the network," Ken Xie, Fortinet's founder, chairman of the board, and CEO, said in a statement.

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Bradford provides dynamic profiling and full visibility into every user and endpoint, including headless devices and IoT. The company prevents the lateral movement of threats between endpoints through event triage and automates workflow integrations, and can be deployed without having to do an installation at every location of a multi-site environment.

"Bradford Networks’ technology is already integrated with Fortinet’s Security Fabric including FortiGate, FortiSIEM, FortiSwitch and FortiAP products to minimize the risk and impact of cyber threats in even the toughest security environments such as critical infrastructure - power, oil and gas and manufacturing," Rob Scott, Bradford's CEO, said in a statement.

Partners can now sell Bradford's Network Sentry as a default with those four Fortinet Security Fabric products, Xie said in a letter to customers and partners Monday. The channel will immediately benefit from an expanded product and services portfolio, access to an increased addressable market, and the ability to boost their strategic sales conversations with the CISO, according to FAQs posted by Fortinet.

Fortinet is in the process of integrating the Bradford Networks offering and partners into the Fortinet Channel program, the company said, according to the FAQ. In the meantime, Bradford Networks partners can continue to sell Bradford services as usual, the company said.

Fortinet will initially pay $17 million for Bradford, and may pay an additional $2 million for earn-outs subject to certain performance conditions. The deal is not expected to have a material impact on Fortinet's second quarter or full year 2018 financial guidance, according to the company, which wasn't immediately available for additional comment. Fortinet's stock was up less than 1 percent to $62.25 in trading midday Monday.

The sheer volume of IoT, corporate and BYOD devices seeking wired and wireless enterprise network access has exponentially increased the attack surface and raised internal provisioning, management and compliance costs, according to the company. However, the responsibility of connecting and securing access falls between network and security domains, a gap that has been exploited by cybercriminals.

The key to solving this challenge is holistic access control, Fortinet wrote in a blog post. Through this acquisition of Bradford Networks, Fortinet said it can strengthen its Security Fabric by extending its ability to support and secure today’s expanding multi-vendor wired and wireless environments.

The main products competing against Bradford Networks include Cisco ISE, Aruba ClearPass, and ForeScout CounterACT, according to the FAQ. Fortinet said in its blog post that it will continue to work closely with those companies and products through its Fabric Partner Program to maintain maximum flexibility and choice for customers.

The Fortinet and Bradford Networks partnerships combines the SIEM, switch, secure WiFi and firewall benefits of Fortinet with the visibility, network access control and automated threat response of Network Sentry, according to a solution brief prepared by Fortinet. By combining these technologies, Fortinet said organizations achieve superior threat detection for mobile, IoT and network devices.

Network Sentry provides visibility and control of all wired and wireless infrastructure to extend the Fortinet Security Fabric to all equipment, according to the solution brief. By combining Fortinet and Network Sentry, Fortinet provides the network security while Network Security provides detailed contextual information about the endpoints, user, applications and network connections.

While Fortinet is controlling perimeter security, the company said Network Sentry can control what files, equipment and network resources each employee or guest can access. For example, the solution brief indicates that if an employee unplugs a printer and plugs in a Windows machine instead, Network Sentry will record this change and will isolate the replacement device.

Bradford Networks was founded in 1999 and employs 53 people, according to LinkedIn. The company has raised $16 million in five rounds of outside funding, according to CrunchBase, with Bradford mostly recently bagging $2 million of venture capital funding in 2016.